Friday, February 27, 2015

Easter Decorating at Chateau Gahan

I found these little peeps at Big Lots 
and thought they'd be perfect 
amongst my egg trees and bowl of decorative eggs.

Even in its everyday state, Chateau Gahan dons Easter pastels.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Go Team 50!

I'll begin with this excerpt from Amy Poehler's book Yes Please

Getting older also helps you develop X-ray vision. The strange thing is that the moment people start looking at you less is when you start being able to see through people more. You get better at understanding what people mean and how it can be different from what they say. Finally the phrase “actions speak louder than words” starts to make sense. You can read people’s energies better, and this hopefully means you get stuck talking to less duds. You also may start to seek out duds, as some kind of weird emotional exercise to test your boundaries. You use the word “boundaries.” You can witness bad behavior and watch it like you would watch someone else’s child having a tantrum. Gone are the days (hopefully) when you take everything personally and internalize everyone’s behavior. You get better at knowing what you want and need.

I love everything about this. I remember when I was in my 20's. I have a soon to be 23-year-old, so I'm also reminded every day, as I live side-by-side with my daughter, just what being in 20-ish skin feels like. It's not an easy existence. Living as a 20-something is like the stage of a butterfly when it's emerging from its chrysalis; it's awkward, unfamiliar and there's uncertainty about what life will look like on the other side. While something beautiful emerges, getting to that point involves change, effort, and living and looking like the not-as-beautiful-as-the-butterfly caterpillar.

There are people who would give an arm to relive their high school years, others their college days, and some their 20s. I suppose there's a fan club for every decade. But I'm the head cheerleader for the 50s crowd. It feels good to be in my skin; I wear it humbly and with ease. And yes, I do have X-ray vision.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Neighborhood Grocery = Glass Finds

Here in Peachtree Corners, GA, we have so many options for good grocery shopping. Within a 5-mile radius of Chateau Gahan there's a Trader Joe's, Sprouts, Earth Fare, Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, Ingles, Super H Mart, and Walmart Neighborhood Market. And there's The Fresh Market about 8 miles from our house. We are super fans of Sprouts for most of our shopping (and hit up Ingles, a short walk from our place, for paper and household products).

Harleigh was shopping in Sprouts a few weeks ago and came across organic apple juice in this beautiful bottle. She got the juice for herself, the bottle for me. Once emptied, I cleaned it up and put it on the mantle (along with a glass bowl of shells and a glass vase of cotton bolls). For now it holds a fake flowering branch, but soon it will hold something real, fresh and Springy.

My go-to process for getting labels off glass —

I use Goo Gone Spray Gel. Love it for taking off stuck-on labels and cleaning muck off glass in general. I like the spray better than the straight liquid; easier to saturate the paper.  I first give the label a generous spray of the Goo Gone; let it set for about 15 minutes. Then I take a scraper (the  kind that holds a one-sided razor blade) and begin scraping along the top edge. I then give another spray of the Goo Gone along the frayed top of the label so that it soaks between the glass and label. I let it set for a few minutes. By this time, the balance of the label comes off very quickly. Always remember to scrap away from you. There's usually stray glue left once all the paper comes off. By holding the glass under running water, you can easily see where the glue is left, then give it a swipe with the scraper or piece of cloth.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Favorite Fridays

Before the company I work for, unboundary, moved office space last October, we lived our workdays in a huge train warehouse. Two-story+ ceilings, cement floors, dogs brought to work (still do that, but there are fewer), soaring windows. A real statement of a space.

As Traffic Manager, I conducted weekly company meetings, usually every Monday morning, where we would review the week’s work ahead of us, share personal accomplishments, and talk about client projects, a hodgepodge of content, but always aiming to inform and entertain. We called the meeting unWeekly (playing off the "un" in our name). The meeting would last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour and was held in our huge auditorium space which we called  TEDome, a space aptly renamed (from Thunderdome) because it is where we held the annual (sometimes bi-annual) TEDxAtlanta, organized by our company and started in 2009 after our president began attending the annual TED conference.

I had a format for the meeting, segments that everyone could expect to happen every week, and  surprises to anticipate. With such a vast space (it seats 200+) and two-story ceilings, it was essential that I be miked; so I was outfitted in an uber cool Britney Spears headset. Each meeting started with a song through our sound system. I had a sign-up sheet for the song to be played each week. I made sure the music was played loud to get everyone in a good mood. Sometimes the music was accompanied by a music video; sometimes the song would go with a theme for the week (one related to the season, or one I made up). Here is some of what was played —

Hold On by Wilson Phillips
Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F) by Katy Perry
Happy Valentine’s Day by Outkast
The Power by Snap!
Funkytown by Lipps Inc.
MmmBop by Hanson
Hot Cheetos and Takis by Y.N.RichKids
1st of May by the Bee Gees
Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle
Daydream Believer by The Monkees

And when one person didn't get me their music choice by the deadline, I did what I promised I would do if rendered music-less come Monday morning. Nelson it was. Oh no you dihn't. Oh yes I did.

I gathered some pix from past unWeeklies that made me smile, fondly remembering our old space and how much fun I had hatching ideas.

For Halloween 2011, I made the entire space dark except for candles on every surface. Police tape blocked off the curtained entrance to TEDome. Once everyone was seated, the music began. Vic Mizzy’s The Haunted Organ from the movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. Halfway through the organ piece, Molly, our receptionist, rolled a corpse, me the emcee, into the space. I was on a morgue table, covered with a sheet, one hand dangling down, a few spiders on me, and my bare feet sticking out, one toe with a toe tag. At the end of the music, I sat up and began the meeting.

In the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, I made nametages that I, Consuela,  handed out at the beginning of the meeting with Mexican names for everyone. 

For the official start of summer, I created a lifeguard chair by putting one of our auditorium chairs up on a work table, taped on a beach umbrella, crafted a lifesaving floatie, and led the meeting decked out in sunglasses and twirling a whistle. I threw a few beach balls into the crowd for fun. I love being an idiot.

One of my grandest meetings was always for Independence Day. I captured the Lee Greenwood God Bless the USA laser show at Stone Mountain and had it playing on the big screen (in subsequent years, at one attendee's request I added The Charlie Daniels Band The Devil Went Down to Georgia). The laser show ended in an on-screen fireworks display. The usual auditorium chairs were replaced with lawn chairs and blankets and our big fake felt rocks. I had coolers with cold sodas around. Gave everyone American flags and glo-stix. It was magical.

Over the course of the years doing this,

— I visually chronicled a pregnancy. Molly was quite the trooper, posing for the weekly picture that was shown on the big screen every week along with a googled image of what her baby looks like at that particular stage.
— We announced a puppy addition to our dog family (a slide show of a stick couple and how they wanted to add to their family, culminating in the actual puppy being announced and brought into the meeting with squeals of delight and lots of baby talk).
— We heard talks and saw images from trips to Dragon*Con, volunteer efforts, family vacations, a presentation of a Yale University Master's Thesis on color, witnessed Super Bowl bets that resulted in the losers (2 guys, good sports) who had to sing Karaoke to Shania Twain's Feel Like a Woman.

With hundreds of auditorium chairs to use as props, I was constantly putting them in different configurations. One week following a big travel week for lots of our peeps, I put the chairs in rows of 3 chairs and 2 chairs with an aisle down the middle. And had two uninhibited volunteers act as flight attendants greeting people when they arrived on unAir Flight 207, and then walking up and down the aisle before the meeting began checking on the "passengers." When one person chose James Taylor and Carole King You've Got a Friend as the opening music, I put the chairs in pairs scattered all over the room. And when everyone sat down, I asked them to hug the friend next to them. Stupid stuff like that made for some fun times.

Before the Easter holiday, it was only right to supply bunny ears.

And for Presidents' Day, I couldn't help but channel the inner politician and address the crowd with a JFK/Clinton fist-with-thumb-sticking-out to make my point. (I look like a plump, unfashionable Sarah Palin.)

I miss those days.
Here's to Favorite Fridays.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Salty Days

Harleigh and I are 81 days away from our trip to Alligator Point, Florida. It sounds like a long time. And it is, much too long. Hearing JFK's 1962 speech at the America's Cup (aired last night on the Carnival Cruise commercial during the Super Bowl) made me all the more antsy.

“I really don't know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it's because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it's because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea - whether it is to sail or to watch it — we are going back from whence we came."

This is worth waiting for . . .

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